Support The Experimental Lakes Area

The Experimental Lakes Area has suffered greatly from the Canadian government’s anti-science funding policies and has luckily been saved by the International Institute for Sustainable Development. To ensure that further damage can’t come from the ideologically-driven and anti-environment Conservative Party the ELA has turned to crowd funding to survive.

Last year, The Walrus magazine had a great article on the ELA and how beneficial it is to science and the planet.

You might have heard that the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) took it over the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) on April 1st. We are reaching out to the public to help make people feel is it “theirs” (and reduce reliance on government funding so it can’t be closed again due to changes in departmental policy)

From their Indiegogo page:

The ELA features a collection of 58 small lakes, as well as a facility with accommodations and laboratories. Since its establishment in 1968, ELA has become one of the world’s most influential freshwater research facilities. In part, this is because of the globally unique ability at ELA to undertake whole-ecosystem experiments.

There is nowhere else in the world that has the same potential to conduct this type of research and make such a positive impact on our world’s freshwater supplies.

Support the campaign!

Decrease Blood Pressure By Simply Changing Your Diet

I love knowledge and it’s exciting that a meta-analysis in JAMA Internal Medicine has concluded that a vegetarian diet is perfect for decreasing blood pressure!Meta-analysis of research data is the assessment of a multiple research papers related to the same issue and sometimes the meta-analysis can disprove existing assumptions, in this case the meta-analysis confirms what many already thought!

Plus, researchers found that “the effect sizes are similar to those observed with commonly recommended lifestyle modifications, such as adoption of a low-sodium diet or a weight reduction of 5 kg, and are approximately half the magnitude of those observed with pharmaceutical therapy,” they wrote in the study. A weight reduction of 5 kilograms is equivalent to about 11 pounds.

Read more at Huffington Post.

Play a Game and Help Cure Cancer

This month Cancer Research UK released a game that helped scientists find a cure for cancer. It takes the obscure data that needs to be analyzed and translates that into a fun little game which can be played on Android or Apple devices. The aggregate data of players help scientists understand what’s going on in the body when someone is impacted by cancer.

The game’s ingenuity lies in its simplicity. Racking up the combined data crunching power of what we hope will be thousands of casual gamers will help our scientists spot the subtle patterns and peaks and troughs in the data, which correspond to DNA faults.

The power of Element Alpha is of course completely fictional, but the power of the data it represents could be exceptional. Our scientists will be trawling through the results as they come in and looking for crucial clues in the quest for new cancer treatments.

So what are you waiting for? Start collecting mysterious Element Alpha to help us solve the mystery of cancer sooner.

More here.

Thanks to Craig!

Using Drones For Studying Ecologies

Drones are popularly associated with American air strikes on civilians and thus have a negative reputation. The technology underlying the drones can be used for good though. One example of a good use of drones is for aerial surveillance of plants and animals in hard to access/expensive areas.

What are our forests really made of? From the air, ecologist Greg Asner uses a spectrometer and high-powered lasers to map nature in meticulous kaleidoscopic 3D detail — what he calls “a very high-tech accounting system” of carbon. In this fascinating talk, Asner gives a clear message: To save our ecosystems, we need more data, gathered in new ways.

Open-Access Science Growing in Reach

Many academic journals charge a subscription fee that is out of reach for the common person, which means that independent researchers and students are at a disadvantage when it comes to accessing information. Elementa aims to make research about the anthropocene era we’re in freely accessible for everyone.

Elementa follows the example of organizations such as PLoS, who offers peer-reviewed research to academics worldwide on an open-access, public-good basis. Elementa aims to facilitate scientific solutions to the challenges presented by this era of accelerated human impact on natural systems. It is committed to the rapid publication of technically sound, peer-reviewed articles that address interactions between human and natural systems and behaviors. Six knowledge domains form the structure of the publication, each headed by an Editor-in-Chief – Atmospheric Science, Earth and Environmental Science, Ecology, Ocean Science, Sustainable Engineering, and Sustainability Sciences.

It’s not just academic journals that are freeing knowledge to make it more available in the USA. The White House has recently stated that research funded by the American government will be freely available:

The White House has moved to make the results of federally funded research available to the public for free within a year, bowing to public pressure for unfettered access to scholarly articles and other materials produced at taxpayers’ expense.

“Americans should have easy access to the results of research they help support,” John Holdren, the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, wrote on the White House website.

Read more about the White House’s open access stance.
Read more about Elementa.